Monday 11 December 2017

There's real life beyond the game

Players are actually more adept now than ever at finding their own voices and brooking stereotypes
Players are actually more adept now than ever at finding their own voices and brooking stereotypes

Ger Gilroy

I wonder if the sports broadcasters of their day watched Sisyphus push his rock up the hill and marvelled at his ability to keep showing up, day after day after day, putting his back into the heart-breaking work, pushing his boulder up the hill.

Did the commentators have to abandon the fact they knew his actions were ultimately pointless because gravity is an invulnerable opponent? Could they instead celebrate the work he'd put in to reach his level?

Were there pundits criticising his technique and questioning his mental strength, and another bunch of higher-paid pundits abusing his physical prowess and calling his existence into question? If Greek mythology is a weird place to start talking about our Saturday panel chats then maybe I've been doing them wrong.

It seems to me, in high summer, that for the majority of our sports people, with a few lucky exceptions, that all life is pushing a boulder up the hill.

For the vast majority of teams that play team sports in our world these days there is but a brief moment where the narrow parameters of success are met. That second you win the All-Ireland; that instant the net billows, or the line is breached or the crowd roars. And sometimes, as broadcasters, it feels like we're just accelerating the lack of understanding. The common attribute of the happy sports people I've met is that they have an exterior life, something beyond the definition of themselves as a success or failure on the basis of their medals.

In fact, sometimes the happiest people are the ones without the medals who have had to dig a little deeper to find meaning beyond a win or loss. So long as they feel like they did their bit and worked hard they're happy. This isn't to be confused with a celebration of mediocrity.

Last weekend we had Eamon McGee, John Heslin and Anthony Moyles in studio to talk about a load of things. Removed from the pressure to talk about specific games or to act as clairvoyants previewing events we haven't seen yet, we ended up chatting about some fairly random things.

Players are actually more adept now than ever at finding their own voices and brooking stereotypes. Ruud Gullit talked a bit about how a small country can have a big impact last week. He put it down to asking why?

Seán Boylan's friendship with legendary club promoter Tony Wilson, which I first heard about on a brilliant item on the Tom Dunne show, is precisely the sort of details we're preventing our modern-day Sisyphuses from sharing. It's a shame, because they're not mad about that damn rock either. They too are asking why?

Irish Independent

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